I have been walking Austrian footpaths for decades. They form a wonderful network, and the signs are a wonder in themselves.
How beautiful can a footpath be? Austria’s are amongst the best.
I particularly enjoy the country’s system of footpath signs. Over the past three years here I have photographed many of them. I reproduce a selection here.
Things to watch for
As you wander Austria, you may wish to pay attention to:
- nature – many signs are worn or overgrown or both, as wind and weather reclaim them. This is usually a good thing;
- texture: the interplay between sign, tree (or rock) and background is often sublime;
- seasons: some, but not all, footpaths can be enjoyed all-year round.
Each of the following pictures represents a moment of perfection, somewhere in Austria. If you know where, feel free to comment.
This squirrel is urging people to care for nature
Any surface will do for a footpath sign
But most signs are on trees…
Would you rather call the “Alpine emergency” or “Euro-emergency” number?
A “change of direction” indicator
More modern signs may also show footpath numbers…
… or combine numerous technologies
Some signs on rocks
So this is footpath 404 or 42 (red and white). But what is the number of the blue and white path?
A superhighway of three separate paths
How many years of tree growth has it taken to cover these signs?
A spring day above the retreating snow line. Paths in every direction
“Schneealm” means “Snow Pasture”
This track-sign is spookily like the Ukrainian (or Lower Austrian) flag
In “Three Men in a Boat”, Jerome K Jerome complains that marble gravestones will not weather, thus robbing them of charm. Weatherproof walking signs pose similar aesthetic challenges.
I don’t think this is a walking sign but it deserves inclusion
No walking sign here either but a magnificent bouquet of colour
If you are now feeling a strong urge to venture out and go for a walk, do not worry: this is normal
Another beautifully weathered sign (“The Königstetten Section of the Austrian Alpine Club”)
If you have enjoyed this piece you might also enjoy my posts:
- The joy of roaming the English countryside (about the Dales Way, in Yorkshire and Cumbria); and
- How to find your way (about navigating the Pennine Way, from England to Scotland).
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